Yoga Nidra – Art of deep relaxation

Have you had a long night sleep and got up feeling tired? Have you got up from a nice long sleep with a heavy head or even body-aces sometimes? Many people, even after a long relaxed weekend get up exhausted. Have you ever wondered why?

Most of us think that relaxation is very simple; just recline and close your eyes. We are tired so we go to bed and we think that this is relaxation. But is it so? No, not really. Unless we are free from the threefold tension- muscular, mental and emotional, we are never relaxed. Despite a superficial sense of wellbeing, most of us are full of tensions all the time. Some of us habitually bite our nails, scratch our head, stroke our chin or tap our feet or may pace about restlessly, talk compulsively, display constant irritability or chain smoke. So, are we really relaxed? No, we need more than just the conventional sleep to get deep relaxation

Yoga Nidra is more efficient and effective form of psychic and physiological rest and rejuvenation than conventional sleep. Those who adopt this technique in their daily routine soon experience profound changes in their sleeping habits. The total systematic relaxation of a Yoga Nidra session is equivalent to hours of ordinary sleep without awareness. A single hour of Yoga Nidra is as restful as four hours of conventional sleep. Yoga Nidra is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness.

In fact, the capacity to sleep and dream consciously in Yoga Nidra is a revolutionary process which has been utilized by many exceptional people throughout history. This is one of the secrets of `superhuman efficiency and energy of many yogis and people who does extraordinary work in their short life span. Yoga Nidra takes us to a different realm where your body and mind are relaxed and your consciousness opens up into an inner potentiality.

Scientific Evaluation:

Experimental evidence of the existence of a fourth state of unified, transcendental consciousness, which lies in the yoga nidra state at the transition between sensory and sleep consciousness, was first recorded at the Menninger Foundation in Kansas, United States in 1971. Under the direction of Dr. Elmer Green, researchers used an electroencephalograph to record the brainwave activity of an Indian yogi, Swami Rama, while he progressively relaxed his entire physical, mental and emotional structure through the practice of yoga nidra. What they recorded was a revelation to the scientific community. The swami demonstrated the capacity to enter the various states of consciousness at will, as evidenced by remarkable changes in the electrical activity of his brain. Upon relaxing himself in the laboratory, he first entered the yoga nidra state, producing 70% alpha wave discharge for a predetermined 5 minute period, simply by imagining an empty blue sky with occasional drifting clouds.

Next, Swami Rama entered a state of dreaming sleep which was accompanied by slower theta waves for 75% of the subsequent 5 minute test period. This state, which he later described as being “noisy and unpleasant”, was attained by “stilling the conscious mind and bringing forth the subconscious”. In this state he had the internal experience of desires, ambitions, memories and past images in archetypal form rising sequentially from the subconscious and unconscious with a rush, each archetype occupying his whole awareness.

Finally, the swami entered the state of (usually unconscious) deep sleep, as verified by the emergence of the characteristic pattern of slow rhythm delta waves. However, he remained perfectly aware throughout the entire experimental period. He later recalled the various events which had occurred in the laboratory during the experiment, including all the questions that one of the scientists had asked him during the period of deep delta wave sleep, while his body lay snoring quietly.

Such remarkable mastery over the fluctuating patterns of consciousness had not previously been demonstrated under strict laboratory conditions. The capacity to remain consciously aware while producing delta waves and experiencing deep sleep is one of the indications of the third state (prajna) out of the total of four states of consciousness. This is the ultimate state of yoga nidra in which there are no dreams, but only the deep sleep state with retained consciousness/awareness. The result is a single, semi-enlightened state of consciousness and a perfectly integrated and relaxed personality.